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Candles save France’s grand cru Chablis from frost ravages By Reuters


© Reuters. On September 22, 2021, a worker picks grapes at a Chablis vineyard. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol


CHABLIS, France (Reuters) – As harvest gets underway, winemaker Laurent Pinson looks at one of his top range grand cru vineyards with relief: by burning large ‘candles’ he protected the vines from sharp spring frosts that ravaged other parts of his estate.

He will still raise the prices of Chablis bottles as a result of lower overall production. Most of these Chablis bottles are exported.

France is likely to have a historically low wine production this year, after mildew and frost fungus attack on vineyards throughout the country. Two thirds of harvest in the Yonne region (home to Chablis), a famous producer of delicate white wines like Chablis, was lost, according to the farm ministry.

Pinson, Pinson’s wine company of more than 400 year old said: “All grand cru (wines) were more protected than others because they had protections.” He said that on certain plots where the ground was frozen, damage could reach as high as 80% to 90%.

Temperatures plunged as low as -5°C (23°F) in April in wine regions including Chablis in Burgundy, hurting shoots already well-developed because of earlier mild weather.

Pinson was one of the winemakers who placed thousands of candles on the vines. These cans of paraffin were used to protect the plants from the chill. It was the result of tens to thousands of candles lit in the morning.

Additional protections include wind towers, water spraying and a layer of ice around the buds.

Pinson said that production losses will cause him to raise his prices for the 2021 Chablis wine while he oversees grape picking.

He said that this would have significant consequences in terms both of volume and price, due to the strong demand for exports in the last year.

Chablis, in the Burgundy region’s northern half, is home to its white, crisp, and acidic Chablis wine made from Chardonnay grapes. More than 70% of its output is exported to key markets in Asia and northern Europe, as well as the United States.

Pinson stated, “We are well aware that prices can cause a slowdown in the market but economic growth is inevitable.”

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